Burmese Days

Friday 22 June 2012

This week Myanmar democracy advocate and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi became the first non-head of state to address both houses of Britain’s parliament. “We have an opportunity to re-establish true democracy in Burma. It is an opportunity for which we have waited decades,” she said. It is therefore wonderfully appropriate that Orwell’s first novel Burmese Days was published first in the UK 77 years ago on Sunday. Set in a 1920s Burma undergoing waning imperialism, the novel was inspired by Orwell’s time as a police officer there. You can read more about Burmese Days including the first chapter on our website. In 2010 we launch the Prize on the debate What next for Burma? you can watch a video of the event here.

Buxton Festival 2012

We’re so excited to be returning to Buxton on 16th July. For 2012 we’ll be taking Paul Anderson, Jan Montifiore, Charles Allen, Tony Wright and Stuart Evers to row about who is the better writer; Orwell or Kipling. You can see full details on our website.

From the archive

Since today is Take Your Dog to Work Day. We’re reading Orwell’s essay A hanging. Also set in Burma, the piece describes a scene in which a criminal is executed. Just as they are ready to begin the hanging a dog wonders into the courtyard in front of the crowd; “It was a large woolly dog, half Airedale, half pariah. For a moment it pranced round us, and then, before anyone could stop it, it had made a dash for the prisoner, and jumping up tried to lick his face. Everyone stood aghast, too taken aback even to grab at the dog.” You can read the full piece on our website.

From elsewhere

  • Congratulations to Paul Lewis for his win at the Online Media Awards for the Best Twitter Feed. Paul was shortlisted for this year’s Orwell Prize for Journalism, you can read his submitted pieces on our website.
  • The Guardian have produced an eBook of Amelia Gentleman’s Orwell Prize winning features.
  • As part of their ‘A brief summary of the short story’ series yesterday The Guardian focused on Rudyard Kipling which might be an especially good read in the lead up to our event at Buxton.


  • The wartime diaries

    This week’s entries were published on 21st and 24th June 1942. Next week’s entry will be published on 26th June 1942. Don’t forget our other Orwell Diary blogs: his Hop-Picking Diary and The Road to Wigan Pier Diary. If you’ve got any suggestions about our website(s), we’d love to hear from you – email us on katriona.lewis@mediastandardstrust.org. You can also follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.